Heat on BP to improve oil spill response
BP Plc faced renewed U.S. pressure on Sunday to do more to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as the United States and Britain played down diplomatic tensions over the crisis.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was up to the British energy giant, under pressure in the United States to suspend its dividend to help pay for the damage, to decide on its payout to shareholders.
He also said that the British government was offering the United States large quantities of chemical dispersant to help clean up the spill.
BP placed a containment cap on its blown-out seabed well this month, but oil continues to gush into the ocean, polluting beaches and wildlife habitats, killing marine life and threatening tourism and fishing.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson told BP in a June 11 letter made public on Saturday that its containment plan did not go far enough or include enough back-up measures in the event of equipment failure or other problems.
He gave the company two days to come up with a fix.
"BP must identify in the next 48 hours additional leak-containment capacity that could be operationalized and expedited," Watson said in the letter.
Millions of gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf since an April 20 offshore rig blast killed 11 workers and blew out the BP well. The partly contained leak is estimated at 40,000 barrels (1.68 million gallons/6.36 million liters) a day.
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